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Yongye Group: trust-based management

Pablo Cardona (China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), Shanghai, China)
Jiming Bao (Fudan University School of Management, Shanghai, China)
Isabel Ng (Fudan University School of Management, Shanghai, China)

Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies

ISSN: 2045-0621

Publication date: 17 October 2012


Subject area


Study level/applicability

The case is suitable for MBA, Executive level courses.

Case overview

Yongye Group is a biotechnological enterprise in Inner Mongolia, China. In China, people lack trust in economic transactions due to the transitional state of the economy, especially regarding food safety. To respond to this situation, Wu Zishen, the chairman of the Board of Directors of Yongye Group, was determined to build trust among employees, distributors, farmers, and consumers towards the company. To this end, he started using a creative incentive system with employees and stakeholders: the pay-before-performance incentive system. According to this system, the reward is delivered in advance, contrary to be paid after the fulfillment of the task. This practice is meant to transform employees' work attitude from a passive “being told to work” to a more proactive “I want to work” mentality. When such an incentive system is practiced with customers and external distributors, it sends a message that the company is “treating customers as company employees”, which means that they are trusted as if they were part of the company itself. Wu Zishen also introduced a coherent series of leadership practices that generate a truly proactive culture in the organization.

Expected learning outcomes

From this case, students will learn how to create a proactive culture in business organizations and the effect of pay-before-performance on employees' work motivation.

Supplementary materials

Teaching notes and an exercise for class-based discussion are available.



This case has participated in the EFMD case competition.


Cardona, P., Bao, J. and Ng, I. (2012), "Yongye Group: trust-based management", Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies, Vol. 2 No. 8.



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